On Wednesday, my friend Christine tagged me on in a blog post that she had posted on Facebook with the simple status update of “Fuming.” I knew that I was about to a stereotypical angry feminist when the title was “The Case Against Female Self Esteem”. Even with that title I didn’t realize the amount of anger I would be feeling as I read segments off my phone aloud to my Alternative Spring Break co-site leader in the ASB cubicle. We are leading a Women’s Issues service trip with ASB, so we are obviously super passionate when it comes to this stuff, and I am pretty sure the whole Center for Student Involvement heard us ranting about it.
Matt Forney, the chauvinistic man that wrote this piece, starts making his argument, saying, “A woman with excessive confidence is like a man with a vagina […] In order for America to right itself, there needs to be a massive and concerted war on female self-esteem.” So, basically, according to Forney the problem with America is the fact that women feel confident with themselves. He argues that this keeps them from fulfilling their role in society. What it comes down to is that Forney is a man that is most likely threatened by the fact that women can do anything a man can, and can do it just as well if not better. He doesn’t believe in a even playing field, in which all sexes and genders are equal to be good or bad at many different things. He goes on to say how having a degree “is a strike against a girl—unless it’s in something real like a STEM discipline—as it shows that she’s a conformist who thinks that credentials are a substitute for knowledge and experience” and that women’s jobs don’t help run the country. He called them “fluff” specifically.
As someone that has struggled recently with accepting the fact that wanting to work for a magazine such as Nylon or Ms. Magazine isn’t dumb or selling myself short, this especially infuriated me because he said that “If every man lost his job tomorrow, the country would collapse.” Journalism, no matter the form or emphasis area, has a major role in helping run this country. We inform the public, we spread news that can influence people in a variety of areas, such as politics, economics, fashion, art, music, etc. Every. Single. One. Is important. It is unfortunate that the journalism world is still that of old, white men but we have to continue to encourage diversity so that everyone is represented in the media and all needs are met.
The part that made me physically ill came a bit later and said,
“Insecurity is the natural state of woman. How could it be anything else? Given their lack of physical strength, a woman on her own should be frightened as hell without men to protect her. If society were to collapse, all the Strong, Independent Women™ who read Jezebeland xoJane would last about five minutes before they either found a man to cling onto or got raped and killed. In the bellum omnium contra omnes that is mankind’s default existence, a woman who is alone is a woman who is already dead.”
First of all, I hate rape culture more than anything, so the fact that he just threw it in nonchalantly that women would just be raped without a man to protect them peeved me because it perpetuates rape culture by making it seem like a normal consequence. Last time I checked, women don’t “lack physical strength.” I know plenty of girls that could beat plenty of guys I know in a fight. Everyone has a unique body in which they have the choice to mold it into any shape they can, which could be a muscle machine.
Forney’s next big point is that “Essentially, “confident” women are incapable of viewing men as human beings.” He goes on to say that women don’t want to have high self esteem and that we replace a man in our life with antidepressants because we are driven crazy over high self esteem. He ends his essay saying “I say we give them what they want,” which is just the icing on the rape culture cake, joining Robin Thicke’s infamous song.
This blog post made me so angry I could LITERALLY not see straight, and no I am not using the newly coined dictionary definition of that word. The fact that he belittled people that need to use different medication as making them weak and just denying their need for a man is actually disgusting. What is more disgusting is that people that commented AGREED WITH HIM. I feel like journalism is needed for some of these people to give them the information of the women’s movement and women’s achievements and the importance they have in society, and not just to be seen as sex items. We need to make sure that everyone is being represented fairly and showing when they succeed and not just when they fail.
We also can’t enforce a gender binary and heteorsexual norm that Forney uses. I am proud to know the first genderqueer homecoming king candidate to grace the lovely tradition of Homecoming here at Mizzou. I am proud that as a University we can accept someone that challenges the gender binary and celebrate them as they succeed in getting ranked as part of the 10 ten royalty. This was the happy progression I needed after seeing the pushy, gender dominance in Forney’s piece.
Gender alone should never define our destiny because we are the ones that define our gender and we can determine what we want our destiny to be. People don’t need to give us what we want because we can get it by ourselves.